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Minutes of Safety Forum Meeting No. 3/2008

Challenges, best practice and audit experience from the land facilities and safety frameworks and measures for lifetime extensions for ageing facilities. These were the main topics of the meeting, together with debates on interpretation of the regulations on night work, rest and restitution. In addition, serious incidents, the status of work on regulations, interaction with other forums and assessment of the Safety Forum’s annual conference were among the topics on the agenda.

By Angela Ebbesen

Land facilities, different realities – common challenges
Tore Hurlen, L-8 secretary, presented L-8 as a forum for the transfer of experience, consultation and processing of HSE issues that affect all or several land facilities. The facilities are different: some are closely related to land industry production, some are land industry, while others are closely related to the offshore industry, i.e. that in operational terms they could have been located offshore. This entails that the extent of integration with the offshore activities is different, conditions for management and operations will vary and the same applies to framework conditions and culture. As a common arena for the facilities in HSE issues, L-8 contributes to the sharing of experience and concrete development processes and projects across the industry and in dialogue with the authorities. The experiences from the Buncefield disaster in England in 2005 were emphasized as a relevant topic for discussion under the direction of L-8  (Read more: Buncefield Investigation Homepage). 

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway’s (PSA’s) priorities in the 2008 audits and experiences from audits of the land facilities were presented. Anne Vatten, PSA, called attention to high operational competence and capable employees as positive pre-requisites for the HSE work. At the same time she reviewed areas for concern and improvement, including simultaneous modification and operations, the operator’s follow-up of contractors and learning from own incidents.

Pre-requisites for extended lifetime
When the first facilities on the Norwegian Shelf were built, the intention was that they would last for 20 years. The “shelf life” for everything built prior to 1988 has actually expired and there are no regulatory requirements for applying for lifetime extensions. Gerhard Ersdal, PSA, gave an account of the PSA’s work on ageing facilities in the past five to six years. A project has been established to ensure that the players assume responsibility for ageing facilities and prepare good standards and guidelines for lifetime extension. This will contribute to the extended use of existing infrastructure, to efficiency, equal treatment and predictability in the authorities’ processing and to competence enhancement for all involved parties. Even though there are many examples of old structures and systems remaining in good condition despite ageing, the PSA’s view is that even though things may progress satisfactorily, there must be documentation based on the operators’ and shipowners’ own concrete assessments and measures. For further information see the PSA’s website (link in right-hand margin).

 Extended lifetime application model
Per Otto Selnes, OLF, gave an account of the parties’ work on ageing facilities from load-bearing structures in 2006 up to today’s work on OLF guidelines for applications for use of facilities beyond their lifetime. The guidelines are expected to be completed in the near future and will be followed up by an evaluation. The project, which started in 2006, is expected to be completed by the summer of 2009.

 Night work, rest and restitution – understanding and interpretation of the regulations
The employee organizations have on several occasions pointed out what they perceive to be the industry’s deliberate challenging of the PSA and the regulations in this area. Concern was also expressed at this meeting. The industry, represented by OLF, emphasized that this is not in line with their attitude. But as regards dispensations,  the companies are of the opinion that as long as they adhere to applicable rules they do not need to apply for a dispensation. Øystein Joranger, OLF, gave an account of OLF’s view on night work, shared sleeping quarters and “hotbedding” – and of the PSA’s interpretation letter on this issue, which they believe does not have independent weight in terms of legal sources. Ognedal did not wish to have any further debate on the interpretation of the regulations in the Safety Forum. At the same time he emphasized that what emerged from the input given necessitates re-evaluating the regulations and associated philosophy in terms of current reality.

Any other business
A status of the work on regulations was given. For further details see the PSA’s website (link on work on regulations in the right-hand margin). The Safety Forum’s annual conference was summarized as the “best ever”. Serious incidents were reviewed and potential interaction between the Labour Inspection Council and the Safety Forum was also discussed. For further details, see link in right-hand margin.

 Contact in the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway:
Angela Ebbesen, technical secretary of the Safety Forum
E-mail: angela.ebbesen@ptil.no